The Rev. Bob Kettering, Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren interim senior pastor, knows that government-issued stimulus checks help many people who face financial hardship from the coronavirus pandemic.
But he also recognizes others like himself, unaffected economically, also received the government’s economic income payments.
“Many of us are abundantly blessed,” Kettering says.
When Americans received the second round of stimulus payments, he wondered if members who didn’t need the money would welcome an opportunity to donate it to support a mission outreach project. After receiving approval from the church executive committee, he sent a letter to challenge the 469-member congregation to contribute their checks to the Mission Stimulus Fund. He got an answer 28 days later, when the campaign raised an impressive $26,610.
“The fund will go to help the Delmas Church of the Brethren in Haiti purchase land and a building,” Kettering says.
Delmas Church in 2003 was one of the first Haiti Church of the Brethren congregations to organize in Haiti Port-au-Prince, Kettering says. A catastrophic 7.01 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, destroyed the church building and created land tilting issues making it impossible to build again on the same location.
A decade later, the church is still recovering from the earthquake.
“Land is extremely expensive in Port-au-Prince, so for the past 10 years the church has been using a temporary structure for worship on a school roof building,” Kettering says.
While the owner has been patient and generous allowing the church to meet on the property for a decade, the school now needs the space. The church has plans to purchase land with an existing building to remodel for roughly $80,000. With $20,000 toward the purchase, the church still needs about $60,000.
Kettering asked the Mechanic Grove congregation to join him and his wife, Lib, to give, as they are able, all or part of their stimulus checks to help Delmas Church get closer to their goal of relocating.
Mary Etta Reinhart, pastor of congregational care ministries at Mechanic Grove Church, believes Kettering’s idea for the Mission Stimulus Fund was the right thing to do at the right time.
“We have a generous congregation. Some have struggles, but all feel blessed and believed it was a good idea to give our stimulus money to help the Delmas church,” she says.
Steve Grosh, church moderator, agrees.
“Our church body feels it’s important to support worldwide missions, and Bob’s challenge was a good way for us to help the Delmas congregation build a permanent facility to worship the Lord,” Grosh says.
He credits Kettering as a person who, when he comes up with a vision, is able to make it a reality.
Both Reinhart and Grosh say their church is blessed with a large number of young families, along with older adults, who like to help others. In 2020, the church was the 37th highest fundraising group in the country for the Church World Service Crop Walk, having raised $9,810.
Kettering says other individuals and churches will help raise the additional estimated $34,000 still needed for the Haiti church. All funding is directed to the Church of the Brethren Global Missions through the Brethren World Mission Board in Elgin, Illinois.
In 2014, Kettering visited several Haiti churches and medical clinics as a member of the Church of the Brethren Mission Advisory Team. The weeklong visit didn’t include Delmas Church’s temporary location.
Today, Haiti has 21 Church of the Brethren congregations along with an extensive medical project supported by Brethren Global Missions to provide mobile clinics, fresh drinking water and construction of latrines.
“My hope is for other churches of all denominations to be inspired and challenge their members with a similar goal to help mission churches around the world as they fulfill and fund the Great Commission of Jesus to ‘Go into all the world and make disciples,’ ” Kettering says.
The Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren is located at 1392 Robert Fulton Highway, Quarryville. Church services are in person and virtual. For more information, visit mgcb.org or call 717-786-2723.